Gold Star: COE Gains Accreditation

When UMW’s College of Education (COE) earned accreditation in fall 2020, you could almost hear the long exhale.  Any higher-education accreditation process is time-consuming and difficult, with the possibility that years of effort will lead only to a suggestion to fix problems and try again. But the pandemic threw an extra curve to COE Dean Pete Kelly and his colleagues. For nearly three years, they had painstakingly analyzed every aspect of their teacher preparation programs as part of a national accreditation process, set to culminate in March 2020 with a campus visit by a team of evaluators. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) team was scheduled to spend a packed 2½ days at Mary Washington, talking with students, faculty, alumni, and representatives from local school districts. But when COVID-19 sent students home and classes online, the accreditation process also went virtual. Nearly two dozen interview sessions were shifted to Zoom, which … [Read more...]

A Shared Purpose

When a Pandemic Closed Colleges Around the Country, UMW’s Commitment to Community Allowed It to Aspire to Something More

By Emily Freehling As last summer ended, President Troy Paino was losing sleep, dogged by pandemic-related ethical questions. Can the university bring students back to campus while prioritizing their well-being and that of faculty and staff? What about the university’s responsibility to the community? And what sacrifices must members of the Mary Washington community make for the common good? It was, he said in a Sept. 1 video, “among the most difficult decisions I have had to make.” The announcement that UMW would move forward with its plan to bring students back Sept. 10 – three weeks after classes had started in a 100% remote format – came as many other colleges were experiencing outbreaks and sending students home soon after their own move-in days. But Paino had faith in Mary Washington – in the months of planning by administrators, faculty, and staff, and in the students themselves. A successful fall semester on campus was possible, he believed, if everyone kept … [Read more...]

Lessons Learned

Experience Helps Dean of Education Make a Difference at Every Level

By Edie Gross Pete Kelly had his work cut out for him. In fall 2017, the College of Education (COE) was already facing the major challenge of impending accreditation. Then, responding to a critical teacher shortage, the governor and State Board of Education, followed by the General Assembly, directed colleges and universities to offer a four-year undergraduate degree in teaching – a change from Mary Washington’s four-year undergraduate program with a fifth-year master’s degree. “And then in the door walks Pete Kelly,” said Provost Nina Mikhalevsky. As the COE’s new dean, “he not only has to lead a complete revision of the curriculum, but lead a complete revision of the curriculum while doing accreditation.” She likened the effort to Ginger Rogers having to dance with Fred Astaire backwards and in high heels – and that was before the pandemic threw everyone a curve. Luckily, this wasn’t Kelly’s first dance. Kelly had served on five state and national accreditation teams … [Read more...]

Brand, New

Diverse Voices Define UMW Identity

By Emily Freehling Deep research and inquiry are skills the University of Mary Washington imparts to its students. University leaders have turned these tools of discovery inward over the past two years, engaging thousands of individuals to define the University of Mary Washington experience. Current and prospective students, alumni, staff, faculty, donors, and members of the wider Fredericksburg community participated in a research process aimed at telling a more inclusive and authentic story about the university. “We couldn’t get it right if all of these individuals hadn’t been willing to participate,” said UMW President Troy Paino. Paino knew when he arrived on campus in 2016 that UMW would need to refresh its branding – the messaging it uses to present itself to the wider world – to stand out in Virginia’s competitive higher education market. Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Lisa Jamison Bowling ’89 said Paino’s involvement from the start set … [Read more...]